Why Does My Dog Put His Paw In The Water Bowl? 8 Reasons + Tips To Stop It

I love my dogs, and I’m sure you love your dogs. Not only are they awesome, they’re lovable, and fun to be with too.

On the flip side though, it seems every dog has a weird habit or two. Why they do what they do and whether or not we should let them do it varies by the dog and the odd habit he has.

When it comes to pawing water bowls, it seems that some dogs just can’t help themselves. But why do they do this? Well, it turns out there are a few possible reasons:

Your dog could be pawing at his reflection, unsure where the water level is, too hot, really bored, making the water more fun to drink, playing, being a puppy, or just trying to move the bowl.

Whether you want him to keep pawing at his water is up to you. Fortunately, if you decide you don’t want your good boy to keep doing it, there are easy and effective steps you can take.

He Sees His Reflection

Have you ever noticed your furry friend staring intently into his water bowl before pawing it? Your dog might be curious about the reflection he sees in the water. It’s even more likely for him to spot his reflection if his bowl is made out of a reflective material like stainless steel.

Your dog could be having a playful moment with the reflection, or may not appreciate his mirror-like pal (not realizing it’s actually just himself he’s looking at).

He’s Not Sure Where The Water Is

As much as we love them, dogs don’t have the same level of visual acuity as humans. This means your pup might struggle to see how full the water bowl is if the water is perfectly still. With a quick swipe of his paw, your dog can create some ripples and make the water more visible.

He’s Hot

Our canine pals can’t just crank up the air conditioning when they’re feeling too hot. On particularly hot days, they might not even have access to a cool, shaded area to take a cool-off break.

Placing their paws in the water bowl can provide a little, though much-needed, relief for your dog, as cooling down through water is as effective for them as it is for us!

Always pay attention to the ground temperature where your dog is walking. Remember, hot pavement and concrete can quickly burn your pup’s paws, so it’s a good idea to keep them cool and protected!


Okay, dogs don’t require quite the same level of entertainment as we do. I’ve never seen my dogs watching TV!

But they still need mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

If your dog is left alone for long periods or lacks engaging activities, he might resort to playing with his water bowl to pass the time.

If this is the case with your good boy, make sure you’re providing your dog with adequate exercise, playtime, and mentally stimulating toys.

Moving Water Is More Fun To Drink

Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing drink from a water fountain? Just like humans, some dogs prefer to drink water that’s in motion.

If your pup is used to drinking from streams or fountains, he might want to try creating his own waves by dipping his paws into the still water.


I don’t think anyone will disagree that splashing around in the water can be a blast! No doubt your dog loves it too!

If your dog has a fondness for water and enjoys splashing about, he might not be able to resist turning his water bowl into a mini playground.

Being A Puppy

Just like human toddlers, puppies are curious and love to explore their world. It’s not uncommon for your young pup to want to touch and feel everything with his paws, sniffing and peeking around to discover the wonders of his surroundings.

One of those intriguing things might just be their water bowl. So when you see your young canine companion dipping his paws into the water, remember that it’s all part of his journey to uncover the mysteries of his environment.

Trying To Move The Bowl

You may already know that dogs aren’t exactly the pickiest of animals when it comes to their living space or – really – anything. But, there are instances when your furry friend might feel that something just isn’t right, and that includes the positioning of his water bowl.

If your dog is putting his paws in the bowl and seemingly trying to move it, this might be an indication that he has a preferred spot or angle for enjoying a refreshing drink.

If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if you keep finding your pup rearranging the bowl – after all, he just wants to make sure everything is in its proper place!

Should I Let My Dog Keep Putting His Paw In The Water Bowl?

If you’re not too concerned about the mess and your dog enjoys pawing at his water bowl, there may be no reason to put a stop to it.

After all, our canine companions deserve a bit of fun, too!

On the other hand, if your dog’s playful habits end up with things or floors getting wet that you don’t want covered in water…Then it may be time to teach him a more appropriate way to interact with his water bowl.

At the end of the day, as long as your dog isn’t pawing at his water as a symptom of something negative going on in his life (like boredom), then it is up to you if you want to let him keep pawing his water.

However, having said that, keep in mind that this habit may cause some challenges down the line. For example, it might be a little harder to find a pet sitter who is willing to keep cleaning up around your good boy’s water bowl.

If you frequently rely on pet sitters or plan to in the future, addressing the water bowl issue now might save you a headache later.

How Do I Get My Puppy To Stop Pawing The Water Bowl?

If you’ve decided to get your dog to quit putting his paw in his water dish, you’ve come to the right place.

Basic Commands

Before diving into more specific solutions, I just want to make sure you’ve tried using basic commands, such as ‘no’, to stop your pup from pawing at the water bowl.

If you haven’t, give this a go, using a firm and clear tone of voice every time you catch him in the act. You’ll need to do this every time, so your dog begins to understand that you never want him to paw his water, not just this one time you’re telling him not to.

Get A Non-Reflective Bowl

One possible reason (discussed above) your dog may be fiddling with his water bowl is that he’s seeing his reflection in it and becoming curious or playfully agitated.

Consider replacing his current bowl with a non-reflective one made of plastic or another material that won’t show his reflection.

Keep Something That Floats In The Bowl

Another helpful trick is to place something that floats in the water bowl – preferably an object that won’t get soggy or be hazardous to your dog.

A piece of kibble (changed daily) or a small, floating toy could do the trick. This will help your dog quickly identify where the water is in his bowl, making the need for him pawing at it out of confusion or curiosity unnecessary.

Make Sure Your Dog Can Stay Cool

Make sure your dog is comfortable and cool in his environment. This might mean keeping your home at a cooler temperature even when you’re not home or providing a shaded, refreshing area for your good boy to rest.

You could even consider setting up a small kiddie pool for him to cool off in.

By taking these steps, you’ll decrease the likelihood of your dog relying on his drinking water as his primary means of cooling down.

Give Your Dog Mental and Physical Stimulation

One of the best ways to curb your dog’s desire to paw at his water bowl is by providing regular mental and physical stimulation. Engage your furry friend in daily activities such as:

  • Daily walks: Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise by taking him on walks at least once a day. As a bonus, this will also help strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
  • Dog toys: Invest in stimulating dog toys like puzzle feeders, interactive toys, and chew toys to channel your dog’s energy and prevent boredom.
  • Cuddles and playtime: Shower your dog with love and attention. A good game of fetch or chase to will keep his mind occupied and satisfied.

Consider A Dog Dish with a Fountain

If your dog is constantly pawing at the water bowl, it might be time to try something new. A dog dish with a built-in water fountain can encourage your pup to drink without the need to splash.

The constant stream of water can be more appealing to drink from and less tempting to play with, ultimately reducing the pawing behavior.

Move The Water Bowl Away

If your dog continues to splash around in his water bowl after you’ve ruled out any major issues (like his paws being too hot), try moving the water bowl to a different location. There could be a specific reason your dog is engaging in this behavior in that particular spot.

Another option is to pick up the water bowl when your dog starts splashing in it. This can help teach him that playing with his water bowl is not okay. Remember to return the bowl, as staying hydrated is essential for your pet’s health.

Be Consistent And Patient

No matter which methods you choose, patience and consistency are key in training your pup to stop pawing the water bowl.

Stick to these strategies, and over time, you’ll see your dog’s behavior improve.

Always reinforce good behavior with praise and rewards, and keep in mind that positive reinforcement is better than punishment in successful training.

Remember, every dog is different, and it may take some time for your pet to adjust to new habits and learn better behavior around his water bowl.

Stay persistent and loving, and eventually, you’ll enjoy a splash-free home.

Summary: Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws In Their Water Dish?

Have you noticed that your furry friend has taken up the peculiar habit of dipping his paw into his water bowl? I went over the most likely reasons behind this behavior, ranging from seeing his reflection to simply being a curious puppy.

While your dog splashing in his water bowl might not seem to be a cause for concern, it’s important to understand that this habit might cause unforeseen problems like difficulty finding a pet sitter.

If you decide it’s time to curb your good boy’s habit, there are effective ways to help him break it. Utilize basic commands, invest in a non-reflective bowl, or try a floating toy to keep his paws out of the water. Make sure your pup has ample opportunities to stay cool and engage him in physical and mental stimulation to keep boredom at bay.

Moving the water bowl or opting for one with a fountain could work wonders too!

At the end of the day, we all want the best for our beloved canine companions. Being informed and proactive about their behavior ensures that we can provide them with the right guidance and training.

So, whether you let your dog have his fun or decide to train him not to paw his water dish, remember this – the key to a happy, well-adjusted pup lies in understanding, patience, and love.

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